14 November 2014

Database Progress Update: 479,660 Entries!!

     Yesterday I uploaded 5,411 more entries into my Pre-1920 Oklahoma Death Index database. The grand total is now 479,660 entries!

New entries from these sources:

• Mills Funeral Home Records, Grant Co. OK 1916-1956

Panhandle Pioneers v6 1976

The Geronimo Advocate  Jan 1907-Aug 1912

• Early Cemetery found near Wetumka, Hughes Co. OK ©1977 by Teressa Tyler Daniel

Ottawa County OK Families v1 ©2008, v2 ©2006, v3 ©2007

• “1st Baptist Church Kiowa-Rainey Mountain” (on OHS microfilm)

• “Henryetta Cumberland Presbyterian Church, register of communicants” (OCR#4)

• “ 1st Presbyterian Church of Henryetta” (OCR#4)

The Goingsnake Messenger Feb 1984 v1 #1, Sept 1984 v1 #2, Mar 1895 v2 #1

A History of Tulsa OK: A City With a Personality v2 © 1921

• Custer County Probate Packets #418-#1321  (1910-1922)

• Major County Probate Packets #1-#587   (1907-1921)

• Woodward County Probate Packets #1-#478   (1890s-1914)

Tecumseh Herald  17 June 1893-16 Sept 1893

The Shawnee News Daily  2 Feb 1898-24 Mar 1898

Mulhall Enterprise  5 Oct 1895-25 Sept 1903 and 9 July 1909-22 Dec 1911

Britton Weekly Sentinel  13 Mar 1908-25 Dec 1909

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Estates (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: US Indian Service 1900-1909 allottee deaths (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Estate/Death Documents (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Affidavits as to Lawful Heirs (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Correspondence  (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Affidavits of Heirship (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Notices of Hearing to Determine Heirs (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Letters of Administration (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Estates Book US Indian Service  2 Feb 1915  (in PA#51)

• Ponca Agency: Wills  (in PA#51)

• US Indian Service Book for Deaths and Births 1890-1893  (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Vital Statistics (Kaw & Tonkawa deaths)   (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Vital Statistics (Tonkawa, Kaw & Ponca correspondence) 

(in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies:  Kaw Vital Statistics 1904-1924  (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies:  Otoe Estates 1911-1915  (in PA#51)

• Pawnee & Subagencies: Otoe Vital Statistics 1910-1919: Deaths  (in PA#51)

21 October 2014

Back On-Line!...Probate Extraction Progress

     In August of last year my daughter went to France for a year’s study abroad. We bought her a new laptop and I inherited her “old” laptop (5 years old). Before then, my laptop was a Mac that was about 8 years old. So with a “new” computer, I set aside my Mac and started using my daughter’s old PC. Unfortunately, the PC died earlier this year (in early June). So I have gone back to my old Mac. Unfortunately, the operating system is not supported by many web sites and web browsers, nor is it upgradable. But I continue using it for lack of another computer to use at home.

     As Murphy would have it, on my old Mac I cannot access my blog for updates. So I am now using my work computer. The next several posts will be updates of the progress I have made in accessing and abstracting records of deaths in Oklahoma prior to 1920.

     Oklahoma probate records are available on FamilySearch for all but 14 counties in Oklahoma. For the past two years I have been going county by county through those records. This is very time consuming and slow, but very beneficial in the information encountered. So far I have finished 26 counties:

Adair                     Custer                   Okfuskee

Beaver                  Dewey                  Okmulgee

Beckham             Ellis                         Roger Mills

Blaine                    Harmon                Rogers

Canadian             Harper                  Texas

Carter                   Haskell                  Wagoner

Cherokee            Major                    Washington

Cimarron             Mayes                  Washita

Cotton                  McIntosh            


     Currently I am working on Tillman and Woodward Counties. Since I cannot access FamilySearch at home, I am extracting info for an hour before work, a half hour during lunch, and a half hour after work, each day. I can finish one county a month in this fashion. As I said, slow going, but lots of good info. Occasionally I check entries against findagrave and okcemeteries.net and notice that about 15% of extracted probate entries are for people who have no tombstones marking their graves.
     Next report: Newspapers: Death Notices and Obits.

16 March 2014

Probate Records Part 2: Special Oklahoma Related Statutes

     Each state in the Union has its own unique probate laws and statutes. Records sometimes appear where you least expect them. Fore example, one of my Swedish immigrant ancestors was naturalized in the Cook County (IL) Criminal Court. Oklahoma has its own unique situations, mostly related to our having been the "Twin Territories" of Oklahoma Territory and Indian Territory AND due the way part of the state was opened to settlement.

     The Dawes' Commission spent many years "enrolling" Indians who resided in Indian Territory (and elsewhere, in some cases). A multitude of records exist purely as a result of Federal Laws and Dept. of Interior regulations that determined who would be enrolled. Even more records were created during the adjudication of disputes/appeals/ ect. to the rulings of the Dawes' Commission, Dept. of Interior, Tribal authorities and courts.

     It kind of reminds me of when I first started playing card games with my older siblings. It seemed that just as I got the hang of a game, my siblings would add a new rule. Multiple new rules. All very confusing and sometimes contradictory. Once Indian rolls were closed, "New Born" rolls were established. Inter-marrieds were allowed citizenship...then disallowed...then re-allowed. At least this is how the Daily Ardmoreite described it.

    Of importance regarding probate records are the following:
1) At the turn of the century (1900-ish) Indians were not considered capable of legally taking care of themselves and had to have a legal guardian. Then they were legal if they could speak/write English. Then children were allotted, but could not conduct legal transactions without having a guardian appointed. If a child died, a legal guardian had to be appointed to sell or lease the child's property. All these situations provide legal "fodder" in the form of court cases...many of which are in the form of probate files.
2) Remember that PROBATE includes estate and will, as well as guardianships, curatorships and lunacy/incompetency. (At least this was the case in territorial and early Oklahoma.)
3) Many of these probate records are available on-line at Family Search's website.
4) Most of the Indian records (Dawes' Commission records) are available on Fold3. These can be accessed through many libraries as a library card holder. The Oklahoma Metropolitan Library System allows access to Fold3 by logging in with your library card. And you can do it from home.

     THE other situation I referred to above is related to the way Oklahoma was opened to settlement. There were land runs and lotteries. "Original" settlers were issued land patents (original deeds) after a certain number of years of residence and improvement of there homestead. In many cases the original settler died before the patent was issued and the patent was then issued to the "heirs of" the original settler. This created a cloud to the title if the estate of the original settler was never probated. I have noticed in each western Oklahoma County from which I have extracted probate information a spate of probates from late 1919 to about 1922 for people who died 10 to 30 years earlier.

     Recently I came across a probate filed in Washita County records that explained this. It cited Senate Bill #60 of 1919 Session Laws of the State of Oklahoma...for the Determination of Heirship. I have not been able to track down a copy of the actual bill, but it allowed the current land owner to prove in court the history of the transfer of title back to the original patentee, file for determination of the heirs, and clear title to the land. So you may have had an ancestor who died in, say 1903, and he had filed on land in the Kiowa,Comanche & Apache opening of 1901. His death occurred before the required time to receive a land patent. The patent would have been issued to his wife/heirs if they proved up the property. However, this legally left a cloud on the title. Senate Bill #60 allowed the title to be cleared through the probate process. but only after mid-1919. So his probate file would be dated 1920 or 1921.

     If you are like me, you check the records on about 3 to 5 years on either side of the death. It would be easy to miss the later filings allowed by Senate Bill #60. Nor would you, like me, think to look for a probate file for a deceased infant or minor child. However, if the infant/child was an Indian allottee, there would have to be a probate file to legally transfer title to the land. So be aware of legal issues and laws regarding probates for time period your ancestors lived. They vary from state to state and period to period. But they are a treasure trove of information.

01 January 2014

Probate Records Part 1: Guardianships

     I've spent a lot of time the past 12 months reading through probate records. I find it interesting the the causes generating probate records can be different whether in Indian Territory or Oklahoma Territory. I will address this in detail in a later post.

     There are three main types of probate records: Administration of Estate, Probate of Will, and Guardianship. Another, less common one, is Adoption.

     It has always been obvious to me that the first two types of records are probates, but I never really understood how Guardianship records were "probate" records.

     As I understand it now, reading through thousands of these records, a guardian is appointed to protect the legal interests (estate) of, usually, a minor. Since a minor legally cannot enter into a contract, a guardian is appointed to conduct business for the minor.

     In Indian Territory, guardianships were needed for the majority of enrolled Indian minors. These under age Indians were allotted land, and when it came time to sell or lease the land, the minors could not legally do that. So a guardian had to be appointed to dispose of (sell) the land or lease the land (farm leasing and oil/gas leasing).

     So when you see a guardianship record, DO NOT assume that the minors listed have deceased parents.

     Similarly in Oklahoma Territory, many of the guardianship records were for children who inherited land or money from a relative. For the minor to do anything with the inherited estate, a guardian was appointed as the legal representative of the minor. These records often list the names of the parents and other relatives.

     There are also what I always thought a guardianship was: the parent(s) of a child died and someone was appointed by the court to look after the best interests of and raise the child.

     Another type of guardianship I have seen is when a guardian is appointed for an incompetent person. In reading obituaries of elderly persons who also had guardians appointed for them, I would bet the incompetent persons had old age dementia or Alzheimer's.

     Don't overlook the Guardianship as a valuable genealogical record. It will often give the ages or birth dates of the minors, list the names of the parents and other relatives living in the county that could care for the minors, and give the names and locations of those from whom the minors inherited property. For those with Indian ancestry, these records could be the most valuable record you have missed!